Ex-Marine Carla Punch travels to alien space to get over her fear of aliens and succeeds beyond her wildest nightmares. Her life becomes intertwined with Emperor Xywanda’s through their mutual alien friend, Firuun.
Carla has more than the usual sort of war trauma to overcome, because Carla is a loribond victim: one of a group of human POWs subjected to alien psychiatric drugs. Loribonding is now banned as a war crime, but while Carla is getting into bar fights at a spaceport bar trying to make an alien friend, Emperor Xywanda is voluntarily undergoing the loribonding process in secret in a Byzantine plot to save the galaxy from civil war.
Xywanda is out to save everyone but himself, but it’s Carla and Firuun who will have to save the Emperor from his Empire.
You know sometimes when you read a book and you end up not knowing what to make of it? I have different reactions towards those books. Some I come away from them being angry, others leave me amused, then there are the ones I find enlightening, and finally ones I’m completely undecided on. There’s all sorts of reasons why I have those reactions, but the last one is usually because I’m at a loss as to whether I enjoyed it or not.
Being undecided is where I’m at with The Loribond. Don’t get me wrong; this is not a bad story. I appreciate quite a few aspects present, especially when it comes to the humour of one character and the imagination of the writer, but I now believe I have a limit when it comes to quirky science fiction. I can watch it (an example being Hitchhiker’s Guide the film) and enjoy it to an extent, but there’s only so much someone like me can take when it comes to so much abstract humour.
I call it abstract humour because in a sense The Loribond did remind me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (I’m going off the movie here seeing as I’ve never read the book) where there seems to be a lot of different directions being taken that are somehow connected. For instance, like a wonky six degrees of separation with extra fun bits added, such as that scene in the Willy Wonka film with the Hsawaknow. It doesn’t seem to have a point but it fits.
This is probably where the story loses me. As much as I appreciate quirkiness, pieces coming together when you’re not sure they were going to, a colourful set of characters, and vivid world building, I found it difficult to stay focused on what was actually going on. I clued into what was going on by myself, but at times it felt as though the narrative was jumping and missing steps at the same time. I don’t know if that is thanks to this sort of science fiction genre or because there were areas that may have needed fleshing out.
All in all, I’m putting The Loribond down to not being my cup of tea. I did find it hard to put down at times, thinking about it when I was not reading it, and I believe creating that sort of pull in readers is not always easy. There’s a definite story there, along with a hook, and enjoyment, but perhaps more for those who are thoroughly into science fiction.